It’s not that our pal Herb isn’t sociable. He is. One of the nicest guys around, and he can be counted on to start a conversation at the drop of a hat. And he’ll even drop the hat.
No, the reason Herb hasn’t been in for coffee much this week, we know, is the archery tournament coming up. He’s out there in the field shooting every day. He does go bowhunting each fall, but we know that it’s the mystery and magic of archery itself that is the big draw to him.
He has explained it to us several times before.
“This isn’t a mechanical … situation,” he said. “I have a scope-sighted deer rifle, of course, and that is a mechanical deal. It’s numbers and feet per second, and sighting in for 100 or 200 yards and bullet drop and all that stuff. And we go to the range to shoot the deer rifle this time of year just to make sure we didn’t bump the rifle and knock the scope out of alignment. But it’s numbers. You hold this much over the target at this many yards, and you’ll hit it.
“But archery isn’t like that. Not the way I shoot. There are scope-sighted compound bows too, that will come really close to being a matter of numbers, but I like shooting traditional style: you know, recurve bow, shooting with fingers instead of a release, no sights of any kind. This translates to practice. We call it instinctive shooting, but the instincts are there only after many hours or shooting.”
Herb said instinctive shooting is much like playing catch with a baseball. You toss the ball back and forth to each other, and even as you get farther apart, you know exactly how hard to throw it and how much trajectory it needs to get to just the right place on your friend’s chest.
“And how do we know this?” Herb asked, “Because we’ve been playing catch since we were tiny kids, and we know this. And that’s what instinctive shooting is, or should be, at its best.”
“Besides, it’s a bunch of fun!”
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